I grew up in a family that was interested in early music. My father was a harpsichordist, my mother was a violist, and in the house we had harpsichord music from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book going on all the time.1 And we had Stravinsky. We listened to the Histoire du Soldat, and things like that.2 And of course, when I started, I played my father’s Virginals and got my start that way.3 But then, when I was around 11, I switched to flute, transverse flute, I was playing the Bach’s Sonatas and things like that. But there was this wonderful library in New York City, called the Lincoln Center Library, I heard a very interesting record of a composer named John Cage. I think he had a piece called Fontana Mix that I listened to, it was quite interesting. So, I went out and bought his book that had just been recently released. It was in the early 60s, called Silence. And it kind of changed my life.
And I was very fortunate, the person I was studying flute with, at Third Street Music School Settlement, her name was Sue Ann Kahn, who happened to be a specialist in contemporary music. And I heard this wonderful piece by Edgard Varese called Density 21.5. And I wanted to play it, and so I asked her if she’d teach it to me, and she agreed. And through that, I started going through the literature for flute, for contemporary music, playing the Sonatine for Flute and Piano by Boulez. There was a composition called, I think Synchronisms something like that by Davidovsky, and many other composers like that. And I fell in love with this music, and at Third Street Music School there was this wonderful composition teacher who was also at Manhattan School of Music, named Donald Stratton, teaching us theory. And in one of the theory classes, he said “Well, listen, everyone in the class is a musician, so why don’t you compose for each other?” And so that’s how I got my start in composing.